Two government ministers last week put the blame on the voters for the criminal and fraudulent activities of politicians. Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Rajitha Senaratne recently said during a meeting held at the opening of an election office of a UPFA candidate contesting the September 21 Central Provincial Council election that the brainless politician who had forced a teacher to kneel before him had been elected by the people and not by his parents, therefore, the people have to be held responsible for electing corrupt politicians.
Meanwhile, UPFA General Secretary and Minister Susil Premajayantha while addressing a press conference said that it was the responsibility of the people to “catch” those who misused state property for their election campaigns and his party could only advise its candidates not to misuse public property. “What else can we do?” he had asked incredulously.
However, Minister Senaratne is not totally wrong in blaming the voters for the criminality or duplicity of politicians. People do not seem to be cognizant of the link between politics, their rights and their well-being, leave alone democracy and good governance. Politics, for them, is something like a game or a gamble that would only determine winners and losers, and they always prefer to be on the winning side rather than to be on the right side. Hence, they invariably vote for the party that displays the chances of victory at elections irrespective of its policies, character of candidates and the possible repercussions of what they could do.
"People repeatedly elected violent characters from Anamaduwa, Hanguranketha, Kelaniya, Deraniyagala, Akuressa, Tangalle and many more areas and they exhibited their liking to such violent “people’s representatives”
From 1977 to 1994, people repeatedly voted for the party that went back on its pledge on the eight pounds of cereals, and then they have been repeatedly voting since 2005 for the politicians who have not abolished the Executive Presidency or have not given the Rs. 2,500 salary increment to the public sector employees as promised because the only thing they wanted was to be on the side which would ultimately win the elections.
They repeatedly elected violent characters from Anamaduwa, Hanguranketha, Kelaniya, Deraniyagala, Akuressa, Tangalle and many more areas and they exhibited their liking to such violent “people’s representatives” just because these political rogues had been capable of inflicting physical harm as well as humiliation on their political opponents. Furthermore, the degree of violence and the capacity of these candidates to misuse state power and resources has been an assurance for the voters that they would be on the winning side.
However, the major share of the responsibility for the criminality and fraudulence in politics lies with the leaders of political parties since it is they who choose criminals and fraudsters to “represent” the people in parliament, provincial councils and local government bodies. Voters just approve their nominations. Violence has become a sine qua non for politicians despite their claims, promises and preaching against it, since they are hell-bent to get “elected” to these bodies, as political power guarantees the path to big-time money making.
One would wonder as to whether we are living in the US or in a developed country in Europe when considering the amounts of money involved in corruption in Sri Lanka. Recently, the COPE reported of corruption amounting to more than Rs. 160 billion in 26 state institutions and the PAC had reported that tax arrears for the past five years had exceeded Rs. nine billion.
Interestingly, impunity seems to have been guaranteed for the corrupt politicians, in spite of regime changes taking place. If the huge fuss made by the UPFA leaders over the alleged corruption in the CWE before the 2004 regime change had been proved, some UNP leaders would now have been imprisoned for several hundred years.
Needless to say that it is the people who had voted the politician who forced a teacher to kneel, but even after the President telephoned the teacher who had been subject to this humiliation, the former PC member responsible for this act was interviewed for nomination for the forthcoming provincial election. It was uncalled for in an ethical perspective. At this interview, he was not disqualified to contest the elections, but was not given nomination as he had been in remand. Hence, Mr. Minister, it is you, the politicians and not the voter who is primarily responsible for the state of affairs.